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Programmatic IO and Mobile Apps Unlocked

This month kicked off with a busy week of two of the best conferences of the year. While the focus for each is very different, we saw some common themes arise at Programmatic IO in San Francisco and Mobile Apps Unlocked in Vegas.

ProgIO, produced by AdExchanger, draws more than 1200 attendees from brands, publishers, data and technology providers for a very education-focused conference. Grow.co’s explosively growing MAU now has 2500 attendees from mobile UA, retention and product teams. The former has always been brand-heavy and the latter has a stronger performance focus, but these are getting closer and closer every year.

Making programmatic perform was truly a strong theme at both events. An example was WeatherBug, which featured prominently at both – winning an AdExchanger award for using unified auction (Header Bidding) technology to grow their revenue. On the UA side, they focused on ROI too. “In the Programmatic world, I will NEVER buy on Cost Per Install. There’s too much fraud. One of the most redeeming qualities of Programmatic is that I can buy on Cost Per Action, which is less susceptible to fraud,” said SVP of Revenue Mike Brooks in his MAU talk.

Fraud has long been one of the factors scaring advertisers off programmatic, especially with some high-profile fraud schemes coming to light immediately before the conferences. Many marketers are combatting this by moving spend to PMP deals instead of the open marketplace. Others, like Brooks pointed out, find the best ways to combat it is to not pay for anything that isn’t truly meeting your goals, like an install. Ken Yang from StackAdapt had an amazing session at ProgIO about AI in DSPs. If it is really using AI, it should optimize campaigns, not just to one but to multiple KPIs.

DraftKings’ Jayne Pimentel echoed the sentiment. She doesn’t care about CPI or other ‘vanity metrics’ when you can measure off revenue instead. The fact that agencies have been pushing those metrics that don’t drive growth is at the heart of the in-housing trend, and has driven many brand and performance marketers to take more control.

It’s quite clear that there is still a place for the agency though – as Freddie Liversidge, HP’s Digital Director said, “Agencies have been around for years, and they’re not going away.” One marketer who inhoused their programmatic claimed ROI skyrocketed, but it was more difficult than expected, sucking up an average of three hours per day of their teams’ time. Further, ‘clout advantage’ still exists, and though it is less of a factor in digital, other media like TV and outdoor are easier and cheaper to outsource.

TV got a lot of attention at both shows. By 2020 mobile ad spend is expected to outpace all traditional media combined, but more and more performance marketers want to embrace it.

“It’s getting more complicated and expensive to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time – at scale,” said Lyft’s Sigal Bareket. “We are being challenged to measure the incrementality of every ride we drive. We need to know that we are not cannibalizing organic growth.” This is where incrementality tests come in, and they are becoming ever-more rigorous.

All the MMPs offer some level of omni-channel measurement, though it remains a big challenge across the board. “Consumers have come to expect brands to be able to understand and speak to them without skipping a beat as they jump from device to device,” said Adam Biehler of mParticle. At the same time, they don’t want marketers sharing their data or the feeling of being ‘followed.’ It remains a delicate balance and challenge. The key, AppsFlyer argued, is building trust with plain and clear explanations of how you will use their data, and providing an opt out.

As always we had an incredible time networking and meeting some of the brightest minds in the biz! Thanks to PubMatic, AdAction, Everflow, Bidalgo, AppLovin, Singluar and Google for hosting amazing events to bring us all together!

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